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Thousands vote in Harris County as nation's first primary election kicks off
Thousands of early voters cast ballots Tuesday in Harris County, kicking off the nation's first primary election.
Overall voter turnout was normal for a midterm, primary election, officials said. But Harris County Democrats reported voters clogging telephone lines, and GOP officials told of long lines at polling places throughout the morning.
Roughly 17,650 ballots were cast in Harris County, officials said, including more than 7,300 done in-person at the county's 46 polling places.
"We're really encouraged by the number of people that have gotten their vote in by mail, really encouraged by the energy around the county," Odus Evbagharu, spokesman for the Harris County Democrats, said Tuesday afternoon. "Harris County is ground zero for turning Texas blue."
The 3,800 in-person votes cast Tuesday by Democrats represents a 300 percent increase as compared to the first day of early voting in 2014, the last non-presidential-year primary, according to Jay Kumar Aiter, a Texas Southern University political science professor. In-person Republican votes were also up about 25 percent since 2014, Aiter wrote on Twitter.
Including mail ballots, Democrats cast 8,000 votes Tuesday - or 45 percent of the daily total - while Republicans' 9,650 accounted for about 55 percent of the daily total.
In 2014, county records show early voters from both parties in Harris County cast about 80,000 votes through the duration of the primary that year, with Republicans accounting for about 72 percent of the total. Democrats meanwhile cast 22,700 early votes.